The fabulous Bren Herrera of Flanboyant Eats issued a challenge: re-write your first blog post to win a Blogalicious conference pass. The point is to show the growth of a blogger: her writing, her voice, and her brand.
What a terrific idea and practice I thought. Then quickly, I blushed. I looked at my first post “The Globe is Golden, the Lovelies are Latinas” (since “The Wise Latina Club: the Manifesto” is just that, a manifesto–an “About” page on steroids that details the ethos of this blog):
“I would need hours of plastic surgery, power yoga, and make up to look like JLO, Eva Longoria, Sofía Vergara, or Naya Rivera.
But it sure is nice to see women who look more like me than most of the ladies in Hollywood leverage their Latina loveliness to own the red carpet. Work it, Chica!”
Then blushing turned into pride. Since I launched The Wise Latina Club in January of 2011, my voice has gotten bolder, I have put a stake in the ground to stand up for Latinas and call the mainstream out for excluding Hispanic women, unless it is as a maid or sexpost. A large and growing part of the population that is increasingly voting, participating civically, and controls 70% of our $1 trillion dollar buying power–can no longer be ignored. We have a voice. What we believe matters. We count.
Now, this post would read:
The Golden Globes featured few Latinos nominated in top positions as directors, actors, producers, or writers. This absence in Hollywood is reflected in other parts of the media: turn on a flagship newscast on the networks or cables or a commercial and you will see few, if any Hispanics.
This represents a disconnect given the demographic boom of Latinos, a population that is transforming the U.S. because of its growing civic engagement and growing economic power (hint hint Hollywood: they can spend some of their disposable income going to the movies).
Where Latinos made “cameo” appearances was on the red carpet. Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Sofía Vergara, and Naya Rivera rocked the red carpet in trend-setting style. These women are unusual because, with the exception of Sofía Vergara, each has broken the mold that relegates Hispanic actresses to play the exotic stereotypes à la fruit basket crowned Carmen Miranda and “cuchi-cuchi” Charo, or that of submissive maid–a role Mexican-American actor Lupe Ontiveros has played up to 300 times.
Given these options, maybe it’s better to be invisible?
Actors of color, especially Latinas, need to fill a diversity of roles, such as Eva Longoria’s capricious Gabrielle Solís on Desperate Housewives or Naya Rivera’s mean girl Santana Lopez on Glee. These women nail the parts of a housewife or cheerleader. That the actresses and characters are Hispanic is a “plus one” that sends a strong message to American society that we are an integral part of this country. Crucially, it also communicates to Latinitas that you, too, can aspire beyond the barrio and be a ________. I will let them fill in the blank.
“Casting” women–in film and real life–in multi-dimensional roles does not only have the power to influence and eventually change debates on gender roles. A more accurate representation in the media also synchs better with reality since we are career women, moms, spouses, sisters, B-F-Fs, students, often times all at once.